HOUSTON Heavy rains on Friday along the Texas-Louisiana border appear to have temporarily doused a key part of a flare system for a 200,000 barrel per day (bpd) crude distillation unit (CDU) at the nation's largest refinery, said sources familiar with the situation.
The flare is a safety system available to burn off hydrocarbon that cannot be processed normally by the refinery's VPS-4 CDU at Motiva Enterprise's 600,000-bpd Port Arthur, Texas refinery. A small flame remains lit at the top of the tower while the unit is in operation.
The flame atop VPS-4's flare tower was knocked out on Friday as 10 inches of rain doused the Port Arthur area, the sources said.
A Motiva spokeswoman declined to discuss what units were involved in what the company called "an operational issue" on Friday at the refinery.
"The refinery started taking precautionary measures as of 12:30 p.m., July 18 to ensure the safety of the community and employees while we are experiencing an operational issue due to adverse weather conditions," said Motiva's Destin Singleton. "There are no environmental impacts to the community and no injuries have taken place as a result of this issue."
The refinery was working to restore the flare to normal operation, the sources said.
The flare systems can prevent hydrocarbon liquid and gas from exploding in a refinery unit.
(Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by James Dalgleish)